This little sea bass number is the sort of dish that is totally restaurant worthy in appearance, relatively healthy (the crab butter doesn't count because a bit of butter never does harm) and packed full of wonderful, fresh flavours that convey a sense of spring on the horizon! I adored the combo of the sea bass and crab and the potato skins were a total revelation, a much faster way to get crispy potatoes by just focusing on the skins in the roasting process, while the charred tomato and spring onion salad added a wonderful zing to the dish when all plated up.
One of the best fish suppers I have made in a while and definitely added to the recipe rotation!
FOR THE CRISP POTATO SKINS
- 750g Maris Piper potatoes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Handful thyme sprigs , plus a few leaves to serve
- Good sprinkle of flaky sea salt
FOR THE SEA BASS
- 1 salad onion , white part finely chopped
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 sea bass fillets (or another fish from the counter that can be eaten with its skin on), descaled
- 50g butter , softened
- 100g pot prepared white and brown crabmeat (I used this Fifty Fifty mix from Waitrose)
- olive oil
FOR THE CHARRED TOMATO & ONION SALAD
- 2 bunches salad onions , trimmed
- 270g pack mixed small tomatoes , halved
- Freshly torn basil
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp wholegrain or Dijon mustard
- good pinch of golden caster sugar
- Heat your oven to 180C.
- Cut the ends from the potatoes and keep.
- Cut the peel and 1cm flesh from the potatoes, leaving blocky barrels of potato behind.
- On a shallow baking tray, massage the skins and potato ends with the oil, salt and thyme sprigs.
- Roast for 30 mins, turning halfway through, until tender and starting to crisp.
- Set aside until later.
- Next up the charred tomato salad.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot.
- Cut the salad onions in half lengthways and cook for about 2½ mins each side, cut-side first, until charred and tender.
- Transfer to a plate while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Cook the tomatoes, cut-side down, for 30 secs-1 min until just softened and caramelised, then set aside with the onions.
- To make the dressing, put all the ingredients into a jar with some seasoning and shake well.
- When ready to serve toss the basil, dressing, onions and tomatoes until well combined.
- Next up simmer the salad onion with the vinegar until reduced to 1 tsp or so.
- Strain the vinegar into the butter (keep the onion), add the crab and some seasoning, and mash well.
- Chill until needed.
- Heat grill to high – make sure it’s really hot before you cook the fish. Slash the skin of each fillet three times and season.
- Put the potatoes under the grill for 2 mins or until hot and starting to crisp again, then lay the fish fillets on top. (If your grill doesn’t go very high, fry your fillets, skin-side down, in a non-stick frying pan to crisp it up before putting them on top of your potatoes.)
- Pour olive oil over the fish, and grill for 4 mins or until opaque with the skin crisping.
- Dollop ¼ of the crab butter onto each fillet, then grill for 1 min until the butter begins to melt.
- Plate up the fish with the potato skins, a few thyme leaves and the charred onion & tomato salad.